Cow milk is not recommended to be given to newborn babies before one year of age for many reasons:
Firstly, newborn babies do not digest cow milk because their immature digestive system is not able to tolerate a large number of proteins found in cow milk.
Cow milk does not contain essential nutrients which are required for the development of the baby.
Cow milk causes many problems for newborn babies like anemia, food allergy, diarrhea, etc.
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Only breast milk or formula milk is recommended to newborn baby till 6 months of age according to the World Health Organization and start solid food after 6 months. Cow milk if introduced before one year of age can create lots of problems for babies because cow milk contains a high amount of sodium and potassium which is intolerable by the baby little kidneys. A large number of fats and proteins found in the cow milk are hard to digest by the baby.
When to Introduce Cow Milk?
It is advised to wait till baby’s first birthday to introduce cow’s milk. After nine months you may give cheese and yogurt to the baby if the baby is able to tolerate because yogurt contains lactose which has been converted into lactic acid and proteins are drained off in the cheese making process.
What to do if the baby is not able to digest cow milk?
Breast milk is best for the baby. If breast milk is not available, give infant formula milk during the first year of life. If the baby is not able to tolerate cow’s milk after one year of age, serve iron-fortified toddler’s milk formula with the recommendation of Pediatrician.
How to Introduce?
Introduce cow’s milk in very little quantity in the beginning then increase gradually if the baby is able to digest and symptoms of food allergy are not found. If the baby suffers from a food allergy after the introduction of cow’s milk, consult to the pediatrician.
Introduce whole cow milk to the baby after one year of age along with solid foods.
Do not give skimmed or low fat cow milk to the baby before 2 years of age.
Consult to your health care provider before switching to cow milk from formula milk or switching between brands of formula milk.
Do not give more than 24 ounces of cow milk per day before 2 years of age.
Offer unflavoured and pasteurized cow milk to the baby.
Do not give raw and unpasteurized milk to your baby as raw milk contains harmful bacteria which can make your baby sick.
If your baby is found allergic to any food after the introduction of solids or your baby is colic or fussy, it is advisable to consult your pediatrician before introducing cow’s milk so as to avoid any health issue.
Cow’s milk – infants: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. 2019. Cow’s milk – infants: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. [ONLINE] Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002448.htm.
When Can Babies Start Drinking Cow’s Milk? (for Parents) – KidsHealth. 2019. [ONLINE] Available at: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/cow-milk.html.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2019. Fortified Cow’s Milk and Milk Alternatives | Nutrition | CDC. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/foods-and-drinks/cows-milk-and-milk-alternatives.html.